Organic Chemistry

The boom in restaurants serving local organic produce has come with an unexpected downside: more bugs in your food. Without pesticides to deter them, aphids, ladybugs, caterpillars and beetles are tagging along on the journey from farm to kitchen to dinner table with greater frequency. But the reactions among diners are as diverse as the critters they're finding on their plates. Some are furious, of course, especially considering they're already paying more for organic food—but a surprising number, restaurateurs say, are cheered. To those customers, such uninvited guests are proof that the produce really is fresh and pesticide-free. "I, for one, would much prefer a bug on my plate to pesticide in my bloodstream," says Ben Long, a communications consultant and foodie from Kalispell, Mont. Sometimes it's more than just a bug. When Richard Samaniego, chef at California's Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, opened a box of organic lettuce last year, a frog jumped out. "It was a good thing I found it before we started chopping," he jokes. And before his guests started eating.